What did you do before becoming the Distiller at Hensol Castle Distillery?
My background started from bar management, for almost 20 years. Whilst managing bars, I consulted for many drinks brands, developing cocktail menus and hosting bar training and tastings. I purchased a 5 gallon moonshine still, for hobbie purposes. I practiced making liquids for 7 years before I turned professional. I have since left all hospitality and focused entirely on distilling for the last 3 years, and I absolutely love the craft!
What made you decide to join and develop the distillery team at Hensol Castle?
I have watched the developments of Hensol Distillery since day one. It has always interested me and I couldn’t help but follow the progress over the years. I saw an opportunity that they were looking for a distillery team, and I made the call to have that chat. This distillery opens huge opportunities for myself and my team. I’m here to teach and to learn across all aspects of spirit production.
Can you tell us more about the distillery and still?
We have a complete one-of-a-kind distillery, located in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan countryside. We are South Wales’ first large scale gin distillery, visitor experience, gin school and bottling plant, all settling nicely in the cellars of a 17th century Castle. At the heart of the distillery is a 400-litre copper still, engineered in Germany and affectionately named Gerald after Gerald Leeke, group chairman of Leekes who own Hensol Castle and Vale Resort.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process and botanicals?
Come visit us at Hensol Distillery and I’ll show you everything you need to know! The jewel in our crown is our Hensol Castle Gin, which is a traditional copper pot distilled London Dry gin. It is juniper-led anddriven by hand-peeled citrus and our wildflower medley (including lavender, jasmine and marigold) that’s grown in the grounds of the castle. It’s the perfect balance of spice and sweet botanicals, making this gin the perfect accompaniment with any mixer or cocktail.
What can visitors experience if they visit the distillery for a tour or gin making experience?
An experience unlike any other! They will receive the full tour with an actual distiller which I think is pretty exclusive. It won’t be completely uniform, and myself and the distillers can answer all and any drinks industry related questions outside of the tour. The whole experience will be educating with a fun edge, rather than drumming information at people. There will be history, jokes, education and fun all rolled into one great experience. And there will be gin flowing of course!
What's your favourite way to drink Hensol Castle Gin?
Keep it simple. Good gin, with a good Indian tonic. There is no need for botanical flavoured tonics when the gin is good. Or a Bramble. With a decent gin of course as the base. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like a Bramble yet!
How would you describe Hensol Castle Gin?
Unique. Memorable. Exceptional.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
Ableforth's Bathtub Gin, Sipsmith Gin, The Botanist Gin from Scotland, and Sharish Gin from Portugal.
What's next for you and Hensol Castle Distillery - any exciting plans?
We are developing a Hensol Castle overstrength limited edition dry gin, introducing an exciting new rum range, plus expanding the production facility to incorporate a specialist miniature production line.
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Review: read our tasting notes and review of Hensol Castle Gin.
Visit: book a distillery tour or gin making experience at Hensol Castle Distillery.
Buy: order direct from Hensol Castle Distillery.